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Create Your Own Grunge Brushes in Adobe Photoshop

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Read Time: 9 min
This post is part of a series called Photoshop Brushes from Scratch.
Create Your Own Blood Spatter Adobe Photoshop Brush
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this grunge brush Photoshop tutorial, you'll learn how to make a brush in Photoshop from scratch. It's fairly easy to create custom sets of grunge brushes in Photoshop once you have a couple of techniques down.

The main ideas are to have a textured source and to play around with filters that manipulate the look of sketched-out lines and doodles. Join me below in learning how to make a brush in Photoshop ready for painting. We'll use three sources of texture: scanned paper and objects, a stock photo, and manipulated doodles within Photoshop itself.

But what if you're a graphic designer with many projects and no time to create brushes from scratch? In this case, you need grunge brushes for Photoshop CC that are ready to use.

This cool Grunge Brush Photoshop Set is ready to use and available from Envato Elements.This cool Grunge Brush Photoshop Set is ready to use and available from Envato Elements.This cool Grunge Brush Photoshop Set is ready to use and available from Envato Elements.
This cool Grunge Brush Photoshop Set is available from Envato Elements.

Scroll down after this tutorial to find a selection of the best grunge brush Photoshop add-ons from Envato Elements.

What You'll Learn in This Grunge Brush Photoshop Tutorial

  • How to make a brush in Photoshop from three different textures
  • How to turn a scanned texture into a brush
  • How to adjust the settings of your Photoshop texture brushes
  • How to use PS grunge brushes

1. Scanned Texture: Preparing the Watercolor Paper

Step 1

You can download the watercolor paper by hitting the Download Attachment button to the right of this tutorial, or scan textured paper of your own. The texture of the paper is subtle, so I'm going to start by manipulating the Levels (Control-L). Enter 0.12 in the middle box under Input Levels to bring out the texture.  

Changing LevelsChanging LevelsChanging Levels

Step 2

Altering the levels has brought out the yellow tone of the paper. Bring it down by simply Desaturating (Shift-Control-U) the image under Image > Adjustments.

Desaturating the imageDesaturating the imageDesaturating the image

Step 3

Under Image > Adjustments > Threshold, move the slider to the right, bringing the Threshold level to 231. Under File, choose Save As (Shift-Control-S) and save the file as a .psd.

Altering ThresholdAltering ThresholdAltering Threshold

2. Scanned Texture: Applying the Watercolor Texture

Step 1

Create a New Document (72dpi if you need a brush for web-based media, or 300dpi if you'd like to create larger, print-based media). Create a New Layer (Control-N) to begin making custom brushes.

Using the Brush Tool (B), choose a default soft brush from the Brush panel. Brush out a small pattern or design, something similar to what's seen below (unless you have a specific shape you'd like your brush to be, of course).

Choosing a default brushChoosing a default brushChoosing a default brush

Step 2

This is where the watercolor paper from the previous section comes in handy. Go to Filter > Distort > Displace. In this case, we'll use the default settings. The dialog box that pops up will also prompt you to load a .psd file. Use the watercolor texture file created in Section 1.

Using the displace filterUsing the displace filterUsing the displace filter

Step 3

Further manipulate your layer by going to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and input the settings of your choice. In my case, I chose 29.55%Gaussian and kept it as Monochromatic.

Adding noiseAdding noiseAdding noise

Step 4

Grab the Magic Wand Tool (W) and select the negative space around the little brush design you've been creating. Select Inverse (Shift-Control-I) and go to Edit > Define Brush Preset to name and save your new custom brush in the Brush panel.

creating a new brushcreating a new brushcreating a new brush

Step 5

Play with your new brush! Change the settings within the Brush panel. Play with the SizeAngleNoise, and Shape Dynamics to further customize your brush, and save an additional copy within the panel itself.

using your new brushusing your new brushusing your new brush

3. Scanned Texture: Crochet Toy

Step 1

In an effort to experiment with various scanned textures, I used the toy I made for this Craft & DIY tutorial and squished it in my scanner for the sake of art! You can download the scan I used by hitting the Download Attachment button to the right of this tutorial, or scan knit, crochet, or lace pieces of your own (toys, scarves, gloves, etc.).

We'll repeat some of the steps from the previous two sections by doing the following:

  1. Sketch out a shape or quick design with a default brush (note the hardness of this brush is higher than the one used in Section 2).
  2. Save the crochet texture as a .psd file.
  3. Apply the Displace filter with the newly created crochet .psd file. Again, I used the default settings to create what is seen below.
using another scanned textureusing another scanned textureusing another scanned texture

Step 2

For the sake of a grungy style and experimentation, let's apply the Displace filter a few more times. I changed the Horizontal Scale settings within the effect to 25, selected Stretch to Fit, and selected Repeat Edge Pixels. Hit Control-F a few times to repeat the same filter. Once the brush is to your liking, select it and go to Edit > Define Brush Preset to name and save your second custom brush in the Brush panel.

displacing the new texturedisplacing the new texturedisplacing the new texture

Step 3

Once again, play around with your fresh new brush.

using the new custom brushusing the new custom brushusing the new custom brush

4. Photo Texture: Using a Stock Photo, Part One

Step 1

Our texture for this section is a stock photo of dry dirt, which can be purchased on PhotoDune (original photo no longer available; try this alternative). We're going to create two types of brushes with the stock photo. The first method is the same process as done previously:

  1. Open the stock photo and save it as a .psd file.
  2. Using a default brush, scribble out a shape, lines, or whatever you'd like your brush to be.
  3. Load the stock texture through the Displace filter. This time I set the Horizontal Scale to 25 and the Vertical Scale to 30.
  4. Select and save your brush.
Setting up a new textured brushSetting up a new textured brushSetting up a new textured brush

Step 2

Once more, play around with your new brush. Alter the angle jitter in Shape Dynamics within the Brush panel, apply additional noise, or change its Flow and Opacity.

playing with the new brushplaying with the new brushplaying with the new brush

5. Photo Texture: Using a Stock Photo, Part Two

Step 1

This method creates a brush that's more like a texture block. Open the stock image purchased in Section 4. Adjust the Levels by setting the White Input Level to 147 and the Gray Input Level at 0.10. Then, go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold and set the level to 110 or so.

altering the levels of a stock photoaltering the levels of a stock photoaltering the levels of a stock photo

Step 2

Select the positive image left from the previous step and save it as a new brush.

making a new brushmaking a new brushmaking a new brush

Step 3

As we've done for each brush created within this tutorial, experiment with your new brush on a New Layer or within a New Document. Save any additional edits you make to the brush within the Brush panel (if you like them, of course).

playing with new textureplaying with new textureplaying with new texture

6. Creating Grunge Brushes From Scratch 

Step 1

Finally, we're at the best part (in my opinion) of this tutorial: creating grungy brushes from scratch! Start as you've done with the other brush styles: drawing blobs, grunge lines Photoshop brushes, and doodles with a default brush, using the Brush Tool. Apply the Add Noise filter to 155.68%.

adding noise to a doodleadding noise to a doodleadding noise to a doodle

Step 2

Distort your brush splatter shape further by going to Filter > Distort > Ripple at 797% (or whatever takes your fancy). Continue changing the look of the brushed-out blob shape by applying a new effect, using Filter > Pixelate > Facet.

ripple filterripple filterripple filter

Step 3

Let's get the shape that's sort of looking like a weird world map in my document further distorted by going to Filter > Stylize > Wind and selecting Blast and From the Right in the dialogue box that pops up. Hit OK and let's take our final steps in creating a custom grunge brush.

wind filterwind filterwind filter

Step 4

Create a New Document and choose a brush that has a real scatter-like quality to it. In my case, I chose Flat Fan High Bristle Count, which has been a default brush since Adobe Photoshop CS5. Take some time to brush out a texture with it all over your document and Save As.psd file. 

adobe photoshop cc brushadobe photoshop cc brushadobe photoshop cc brush

Step 5

Use the .psd file created in Step 4 of this section to Displace the design we've been working on during this final section. Once again, I've applied it a few times with the Horizontal Scale set to 25 and Vertical Scale set to 30.

using the displace feature againusing the displace feature againusing the displace feature again

Step 6

Note the change in the look of the brush when Displace has been applied once versus three times. When satisfied with the look of your brush, Select it and go to Edit > Define Brush Preset to save it in the Brush panel.

differences in displacingdifferences in displacingdifferences in displacing

Fantastic Work, You're Done!

With three texture sources and a couple of techniques in distorting brush strokes, you've created a small set of grunge brushes. Push them further with various brush shapes, texture resources, and different colors to be used when painting or editing photos. 

Completed grunge brushes used to create textureCompleted grunge brushes used to create textureCompleted grunge brushes used to create texture

5 Best Grunge Brush Photoshop Add-Ons in 2021

Are you a freelance or graphic designer with multiple projects? Do you use Photoshop and other design software on a daily basis?

Then your best source of Photoshop texture brushes and other add-ons is Envato Elements. The subscription-based marketplace offers you unlimited downloads of PS grunge brushes. And that's not all. You'll also find thousands of graphic templates, premium fonts, add-ons, and more.

Enjoy unlimited grunge brush Photoshop downloads with a subscription to Envato Elements.Enjoy unlimited grunge brush Photoshop downloads with a subscription to Envato Elements.Enjoy unlimited grunge brush Photoshop downloads with a subscription to Envato Elements.
Enjoy unlimited grunge brush Photoshop downloads with a subscription to Envato Elements.

Here's a selection of some of the best grunge brush Photoshop add-ons you can find on Envato Elements.

1. Halftone Grunge Brush Photoshop Kit (ABR)

Halftone Grunge Brush Photoshop Kit (ABR)Halftone Grunge Brush Photoshop Kit (ABR)Halftone Grunge Brush Photoshop Kit (ABR)

If you're a fan of comics, you'll love this pack of grunge brushes for Photoshop CC. Easily add the halftone vintage look of graphic novels to your designs.

The grunge brush Photoshop download includes 12 different brushes and 4 old paper textures. Play with these easy-to-use Photoshop texture brushes!

2. Grunge Brush Photoshop Pack (ABR, PNG)

Grunge Brush Photoshop Pack (ABR, PNG)Grunge Brush Photoshop Pack (ABR, PNG)Grunge Brush Photoshop Pack (ABR, PNG)

This grunge brush Photoshop set stands out with unique distressed textures. You'll get ten PS grunge brushes in high resolution. The grunge brush Photoshop download also includes transparent PNG files. This kit is perfect for web and graphic design projects.

3. 16 Grunge Brush Photoshop Set (ABR, PNG)

16 Grunge Brush Photoshop Set (ABR, PNG)16 Grunge Brush Photoshop Set (ABR, PNG)16 Grunge Brush Photoshop Set (ABR, PNG)

Add perfect grunge brush strokes to your designs with these grunge brushes for Photoshop CC. You'll get 16 stamp brushes and 16 PNG images. Take advantage of the high resolution to add the most realistic grunge brush strokes.

4. 60 Grunge Dust Photoshop Stamp Brushes (ABR)

60 Grunge Dust Photoshop Stamp Brushes (ABR)60 Grunge Dust Photoshop Stamp Brushes (ABR)60 Grunge Dust Photoshop Stamp Brushes (ABR)

Do you need a touch of dust in your project? Use this grunge brush Photoshop set. The grunge brush Photoshop download includes 60 brushes (2500 px). The Photoshop texture brushes work with any Photoshop version!

5. 50 Grunge Brush Stroke Collection (ABR)

50 Grunge Brush Stroke Collection (ABR)50 Grunge Brush Stroke Collection (ABR)50 Grunge Brush Stroke Collection (ABR)

This kit of grunge brush strokes will add a distinctive touch to your design needs. Use the grunge line Photoshop brushes for any personal or commercial projects.

Discover More Photoshop Texture Brushes and Resources 

I hope you enjoyed this grunge brush Photoshop tutorial. Now you how to make a brush in Photoshop from scratch. Do you want to discover even more tutorials and resources? We've got more for you:

Editorial Note: This post was originally published on 25 September 2014. It’s been updated with contributions from Maria Villanueva. Maria is a staff writer with Envato Tuts+.

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